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About Me, Quebecois Music

2017, are you TRYING to give me emotional whiplash?

This past Monday I had my annual mammogram.

This afternoon, Dara alerted me that Evergreen had left me a message on our home answering machine asking me to call them. This is not normal procedure when a mammogram goes well. I got through to them after a couple of tries, and was informed by their staffer that their radiologists want me to come in for an ultrasound of my left side.

Doublechecking my January 2013 posts, I am reminded that this is not the first time I’ve had a questionable mammogram. In 2013, they told me they saw teeny calcifications on the left side, and after they did a biopsy, they told me it was fine.

I am nervous now, four years later, to be informed that they want an ultrasound of that same side. So now I am scheduled to go back in for an ultrasound, on Wednesday of next week, and I get to be nervous about this until then.

I will now be doggedly focusing on trying to be the least amount of nervous I can manage, because goddammit, cancer, I do not have time for your shit. I have writing to do. I have tunes to learn. And I have a fiddle to learn how to play better.

Especially because goddammit I am going to Quebec this summer, for Camp Violon Trad, as I’ve been wanting to do for ages now. Dara and I are beginning a plan for her to meet up with me after the camp is done, for Memoire et Racines, which I’ve been wanting to go back to ever since the brief and awesome time we had there in 2012. We’re discussing the possibility of meeting up with Vicka there, even.

And I have a lot riding on this, you guys. Because not only is Violon Trad run by two of my favorite Quebec musicians–André Brunet and Éric Beaudry, along with their colleague Stéphanie Lépine–this is going to be the 10th anniversary of the camp, which is sure to make it extra epic this year.

Pretty much guaranteeing that it will be epic: ALL FOUR MEMBERS OF LE VENT DU NORD WILL BE GUEST TEACHERS.

Which means, Internets, that I’m going to be at a music camp that will contain André Brunet (from whom I have already had the pleasure of a couple of excellent workshops, now), Éric Beaudry (because BOY HOWDY do I want to spend multiple days learning guitar from this man, YES PLEASE), AND Olivier Demers (who, as y’all may recall, I dubbed the Best Fiddle Player Ever).

I am not remotely ready to tackle playing the fiddle in a full-bore week-long camp like Violon Trad–I’ll be going for the guitar classes, mostly. But I will also be bringing at least some flutes. And now that I actually do own the fiddle I’ve been renting (I bought it because woo! promotion and bonus!), along with a bow that doesn’t suck, I will ALSO be taking that fiddle to try to at least learn SOMETHING.

Because why yes an opportunity to learn tunes from Olivier Demers will make up for how I haven’t seen Le Vent perform in over a year, and I haven’t seen them perform with Olivier for over two years.


Han says NO.

Han says NO.

TAKE THAT, questionable mammogram results. >:|

About Me

Help me out here, Internets

I’ve been bitching about this on the social networks, so a lot of you know this already–but here’s a post on the general theme of It’s Official, Surgically Enforced Early Menopause Sucks. By which I mean, the vicious hot flashes that’ve been swamping me for the last few weeks. My sleep’s been shot to hell, and I’ve been waking up at least three or four times a night.

Which has meant I’ve been pretty much thrashed, physically and mentally. I’ve been just functional enough to keep making it to work, but not much besides that, including getting any decent progress done on the writing or music. It’s very hard to write a book when you have an inner dragon doing this.

What Hot Flashes Feel Like

What Hot Flashes Feel Like

So what have I been doing about this? A few things.

One, I’ve been horribly snorky lately as well, so at Dara’s recommendation I’ve been hitting some first-generation antihistamines before going to bed. Specifically, the stuff in Benadryl, diphenhydramine.

Two, at the recommendation of my massage therapist, I’ve been taking an adrenal supplement to get my system to stand down out of crisis mode (due to having to recover from surgery), and decrease the amount of cortisol running through me.

Three, most significantly, reading around on the Internets (and in particular, skimming the forums on pointed me to references about how it’s common for Asian women to not have hot flashes nearly so badly, due to high-soy diets. I deemed this as requiring immediate investigation–and discovered, after ordering a tofu dish from the Chinese place near our house, that two nights’ worth of using that dish as dinner tamped down the hot flashes HARD.

I have since been able to replicate this with another tofu dish, and am therefore now deploying an emergency soy surge to my diet for the next few weeks until my scheduled physical with my primary care doc, and my followup with my oncologist as well. We’ll be discussing a proper game plan for dealing with these symptoms, as well as whether dietary changes are a feasible plan long-term.

For now though I’ve got some soymilk for putting on cereal and into my tea, as well as some soy-based yogurt. And I’ve been having miso in the morning AND in the evening. It’s helping. It scales down my inner dragon to this.

Really, the Dragon Just Wants a Soy Smoothie

Really, the Dragon Just Wants a Soy Smoothie

Either way, Internets, this is where YOU all come in. Tell me about your favorite tofu recipes! What are interesting things to do to tofu?

Also tell me about your favorite soy-based snacks as well! And thank you all in advance for any pointers!

About Me

Medical update

This is another one of those posts you don’t need to read if you don’t know me personally, but which I’m sharing on the off chance that it might be beneficial to other women who have to go through the same thing.

The general theme of this post is “surgically-induced menopause sucks” (punctuated, if you will, by Brian Blessed in Flash Gordon bellowing “WHAT A DAMN NUISANCE!”). Medical things about my girl parts behind the fold.

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About Me

The two weeks after surgery report

It’s now two weeks to the day after my surgery, and at this point I’m feeling almost normal again–for values of “almost” meaning, my energy’s still a little wonky, and also, I think I may be beginning to feel the effects of not having any ovaries anymore.

(Medical deets behind the fold.)

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About Me

More medical thoughts

This post is going to get introspective, people, and it’s going to get medical, so you can skip this one or not as you like. I’m going to put the majority of it behind the fold, ’cause if you don’t actually personally know me, this may be a bit more information about me than you want to know.

But. I need to vent. So.

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About Me

The game plan

I’ve just come back from the consultation with my gynecologist, and we’ve got a game plan now for my next medical adventure, joy oh glee.

Here’s what we know now. I had a fibroid in my uterus, described by the doctor as about the size of his thumb, and specifically “precancerous”. Which puts it into a category comparable with the other tumors and things my body’s generated, in my thyroid and in my breast. Additionally, once I explained my history to the doctor, he told Dara and me that the thyroid, uterus, ovaries, breasts, and colon are a known, common cluster of problems.

So yeah. Thyroid, been there done that had it out. Breasts, yep. And while my ovaries haven’t demonstrated a problem YET, they are at risk given that I’ve already had a breast incident. Now I have a uterine incident too. Which leaves the colon, which, moving forward, we’ll be keeping an early eye on just to be on top of it in case THAT part of me decides to join in on these shenanigans.

I told him that the main thing troubling me was that I now have a clear and demonstrated tendency for these precancerous tumors*, which led into the discussion of the aforementioned common clustering of problems. This, taken together with my mother’s history of cancer (as previously described), how I’ve got at least one known cousin with a thyroid issue, and another known cousin fighting stage 4 bone cancer, pretty much equals ‘yes, the uterus has to come out’. (ETA: And yes, the ovaries and my tubes are coming out, too. Since the doctor said that some ovarian cancers are actually cancers of the Fallopian tubes, and again, since my ovaries are at higher risk given my prior history.)

My primary care doc is backing up the surgeon, so yeah, we’re going to do this.

We now have the procedure targeted for November 11th, just after OryCon, since if I have to deal with this, I want to get it done and dealt with and not have to worry about it. We’ll be doing a procedure that’ll allow for fastest possible recovery time–I should have probably about a week of downtime, and after that, by the week of the 18th, I should hopefully be coherent (and bored!) enough that I can get on the VPN to get back to work. By the week of the 25th, if I’m physically up for it, I should be able to resume going back into the office. (We’ll have to see if I can do my usual bus + walking 4 miles a day commute; I suspect that at least for a few weeks, I’ll be doing the two-bus version of my commute. Let’s not even discuss driving. Bleh.)

So. Plan’s in place. We’re going to do this thing. More bulletins as events warrant.

* Here to tell ya, folks, “generating precancerous tumors” rather sucks as a superpower. I DEMAND A REFUND. Or at least if I have to keep this as a disadvantage on my character sheet, I want compensatory extra dice on my “Learn All The Tunes by Ear” and “Learn All the French” skills.

(Though more seriously, Dara and I have started wondering WTF is up with my system. Clearly I have a bug in my genetic code somewhere.)

About Me

This just in: well, my week’s been ruined now

God fucking dammit.

Some of you may be aware, Internets, that I had to have a medical thing done last week. The short not-TMI version of this was that I had a hysteroscopy due to weirdness in my menstrual cycles. I had previously been wondering whether this was due to my going perimenopausal due to being in my mid-40’s, but given my previous history with my thyroidectomy and my stage 0 breast cancer, I had it strongly recommended to me that we should have my uterus checked out just to be sure.

I just got called with the pathology results from the sample they took out. The phrase “pre-cancerous change” was used in the conversation I had with the doctor.

And he recommended we have my uterus out. And my ovaries and tubes as well.

I am to come in on the 10th for a followup appointment to discuss these results and what my options are moving forward.

I wanted to be done with having to have parts of my body cut out due to threatening to turn into cancer.

But apparently I’m not.

God fucking dammit.

ETA: To everybody who’s been expressing their support to me on the various sites I’ve posted this news to, thank you.

At this point I’m mostly just tired and numb. I can’t even manage to muster any real rage for this–because as I told the doctor when he called me with the news, part of me was half-expecting something like this as worst case scenario just because I have been down this road before. I do have a history of portions of my body up and deciding to pull shit like this.

I can deal with it, I know I can at this point just because I have before, and I’m at least grateful that this time around I had a couple of years’ breathing room to get my strength back.

Right now though all I can think of is Tommy in O Brother Where Art Thou?, when Delmer boggles at him about trading his immortal soul to the Devil in exchange for being taught how to play the guitar. Tommy’s answer was a laconic “well, I wasn’t usin’ it!”

I would just like to now protest that losing my uterus WILL NOT IN FACT IMPROVE MY GUITAR PLAYING. Something seems medically awry here. I feel like I should be getting some kind of musical superpower out of this deal.